A Grand Spell of Sunshine - The Life and Legacy of Francis FrithA Grand Spell of Sunshine - The Life and Legacy of Francis Frith

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Clitheroe And Trough Of Bowland

A Memory of Slaidburn.

My father, Ken Hatton, worked as a surveyor with Cementation, a civil engineering company from Bentley Nr. Doncaster. They were driving a water tunnel under the Trough of Bowland. At that time we lived in Clitheroe at 12 Windsor Avenue off Henthorn Road. I remember going down Low Moor to a beauty spot known locally as "little Blackpool" on the River Lune, for some reason I always associate it with that popular rhyme at the time "ten green bottles..". At that time the whole area was less built up than it is today but I was fascinated by the Sewage Works down that way at the end of Henthorn Road and a stream where my uncle took me fishing for sticklebacks and I recall a crab apple tree.

Sometimes dad would take me out with him on his trips to work in an open top jeep, probably ex Army, and he used to say I would fall asleep stood up in the fresh open air. I remember one day going to the site or one of the remote sites where there was a shaft and I was invited to go down in the cage with him but I was too scared - Health & Safety at Work regulations have obviously moved on somewhat in the intervening years !!!

We have very fond memories of our time in Clitheroe. I can recall a neighbour Mrs. Toppin and a lady my mother used to visit near Dewhursts - Mrs. Turner at the bottom of Brownlow Street. Her husband, then dead, had been a train driver and as a five year old I was fascinated by his extensive collection of technical books on trains.

In 1951 I was 5 years old and started school at St. James CE School - it was very strange going to school for the first time and not a bit scary - looking back I can only seem to remember the first day.

I was an only child until in July 1951 my sister Julia was born and I recall her being baptised at St. James church and our relatives coming to the christenng.

Somewhere "out in the sticks" in the Trough of Bowland was a cottage - I suppose there were many cottages but this one belonged to someone called Aunt Sarah or Sarah's Mother. I forget the exact detail but one detail I remember was that they had one of those old fashioned batteries outside the window which I surmise now was to power a radio. It was a glass cased battery.

In later years my father told the story of the time he was out on the moors with a group of Irish labourers who were helping him with the surveying - chain lads. The fog came down quickly and they became hopelessly lost but my dad led them to safety by working his way downhill until he found a stream and then following the flow of that stream which in time would have run into the River Ribble or one of its tributaries.

I think it was also in 1951 that there was a Torchlight Parade in Clitheroe one dark night while the King was still alive and a coin had been minted - I seem to think it was a special Jubilee Year or was it Festival of Britain 1951 ? It was a great night and I seem to recall a bonfire in the castle grounds and fireworks and my father carried me in his shoulders.

Somewhere in Clitheroe there was a Sale Room where second hand furniture and antiques were sold. I remember going around this with my mother and being scared by the things I would suddenly come across - such as stuffed birds or stuffed animals.

Sadly we had to leave Clitheroe in late 1951 (that's why I can remember very little of my first school days) because my mother was very ill following the birth of my sister Julie in July 1951. So we went back to the West Riding in an ambulance, back to South Elmsall near Doncaster.

What prompted me to write this article was an article about Slaidburn from another contributor, Denman Lalonde, whose father had also come to work with Cementation on the tunnel. I bet our fathers knew each other.

My father used to say (and I don't know how true it is) that the long term plan was to extend the water tunnel all the way to Morecambe Bay which in the future would be made into a freshwater lake or lagoon. My understanding was that the water tunnel was for the Blackburn Water Corporation (or was it Burnley?).

Being interested in family history I would love to hear from anyone who remembers these times.

With thanks to Stan Hatton for this memory of Slaidburn

Added 10 September 2008


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